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Modern on a Shoestring: Storm on a Shoestring Edition

I’m not much of a combo player. My brain has never been sufficiently embiggened to the point that I feel confident piloting a combo deck. I often have trouble counting up combat damage, so I’d have no chance of trying to balance floating mana, storm count, how many cards I’ve drawn, or, heaven forbid, searching for the correct four cards with Gifts Ungiven.

However, the archetype is still cropping up amongst Modern’s best decks. Even a cursory glance at the Modern banned list tells you that Wizards is not keen on decks like this becoming too dominant, as they’ve banned cards like Rite of Flame and Seething Song (not to mention Ponder and Preordain, but that’s not just for Storm). This speaks to the power of Storm when in the right hands. 

This isn’t a deck for everyone, but if you’re a diehard old-school Magic player who can’t stand kids these days with their planeswalkers and their three-mana 6/6s, you can get these young whippersnappers off your lawn with a taste of some good old-fashioned Magic, where the real action happened on the stack and where attacking and blocking was an afterthought.

 

Header - The Non-Budget List

 

This is a pretty stock list for Modern. There’s wiggle room in the sideboard and some lands change from list to list, but most of the main deck remains the same across various lists. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on playing this deck so I’ll refer you to an excellent series of articles from Brian DeMars right here on Channel Fireball if you want more information about how the deck works. It’s funny how this list hasn’t undergone huge changes over the past few years; the sideboard has changed of course to adapt to the current field (RIP Affinity), but the core concepts Brian discusses in those articles are still relevant to today’s Storm decks. 

Instead, I’m going to focus on the monetary cost of this deck and look at how it can be potentially brought down. From the outset, this list is pretty cheap by Modern standards, coming in at a little over $200. A lot of that is due to the deck’s lack of fetchlands, which is a nice bonus to start with, but can it go down even further?

 

Header - Budget Cuts

The most expensive nonland cards in the list are Baral, Chief of Compliance, Remand, Manamorphose and Lightning Bolt. The most expensive lands are Steam Vents, Fiery Islet, Spirebluff Canal and Riverglide Pathway. Let’s see just how the cost of these slots can be brought down.

 

Baral, Chief of ComplianceGoblin Electromancer

For the vast majority of time, Baral and Goblin Electromancer are functionally identical. Baral’s extra looting ability will come up sometimes, but as you’re looking to replace Remand anyway, it becomes less relevant. Being non-legendary, Goblin Electromancer is better in multiples and also attacks for twice as much damage, so there are arguments in that column too. 

I don’t think the deck can afford to go below seven “storm lords,” but I’m happy to cut a Baral in favor of a Goblin Electromancer. This saves $8.70 and doesn’t make the deck meaningfully worse. 

 

RemandUnsubstantiate

Interaction like Remand is perfect for this deck – it doesn’t need hard countermagic, just something that will delay the opponent long enough to go off and Remand does that while replacing itself. This makes swapping Remand rather tricky. I’ve seen some top-performing decks play Unsubstantiate instead, however. Unsubstantiate has the added bonus of being able to bounce stuff that’s already resolved but the fact that it doesn’t draw a card does make it a worse option.

However, three copies of Remand will cost you $16.50 while three copies of Unsubstantiate runs to a total of 90 cents. It’s a downgrade in power, sure, but not by much and certainly not enough to put off this $15 savings. 

 

Manamorphose

This card is so critical to the deck’s game plan that it’s absolutely unreasonable to cut it. With Baral or an Electromancer out, Manamorphose nets you mana while drawing a card; you can’t play Storm without it. Despite a playset costing $12, this card is indispensable and it can’t be left on the cutting room floor. 

 

Lightning Bolt

While copies of Lightning Bolt costs $2.80 each, this is not a price tag that should put you off. It’s one of the best cards in the entire format, and you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth with this card. Don’t hesitate in purchasing a playset of this card, as every serious Modern player needs one. 

 

Steam VentsFiery IsletSpirebluff CanalRiverglide Pathway // Lavaglide Pathway

As ever, mana is always going to be an issue when it comes to budget. Recently, I wrote an extensive breakdown of different mana options in Modern and I used that as a baseline to adjust the mana base as best I could to manage playability and budget. It’s not perfect, but I believe it’s a decent compromise.

The deck’s mana base starts at over $100…

And ends up costing around $75.

Saving $25 is significant, but the real solution here is to pony up for shocklands. Again, like Lightning Bolt, you’ll get so much mileage out of these cards that the sooner you bite the bullet and buy them, the better off you’ll be, as you’ll start extracting value from them sooner rather than later. 

 

Header - The Final Result

Here’s where these changes leave the deck at. I’ve shaved almost $100 off the total price of the deck, with only minimal compromises made to power level. The deck has been made worse, but even so, this deck should be able to hold its own in most cases and will still be able to enact Storm’s powerful, proactive game plan. 

 

Header - Bonus: $120 Twiddle Storm

If you want to go even cheaper and get even weirder with a Storm deck, check out this other 5-0 League list. Rather than using Gifts Ungiven however, this deck abuses untapping Lotus Field with Twiddle effects (much of the time stapled onto Arcane spells) to generate mana and draw cards, then fires off a massive Grapeshot for the win!

 

Again, I won’t pretend to be an expert on a deck like this – if I tried to play it, I’d probably fizzle the combo then point the Grapeshot at myself – but it’s always worth noting when a cheap deck puts up good numbers in competitive play. 

 

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to submit cheap decks of your own, as I’m always keen to showcase the budget brews that you’ve been working on. Get at me on Twitter!

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